FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
March 15, 2019
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COUNTY COMMITS $10M TO AFFORDABLE HOUSING FOR THE DEVELOPMENTALLY DISABLED
SAN JOSE – The Santa Clara County Board of Supervisors Tuesday voted unanimously to approve a ten million dollar down payment on what’s expected to be a forty-million-dollar total commitment to affordable housing for people with developmental disabilities.
“This first allocation of funding should be enough to help advance several projects that are already approved, but not fully funded,” said County Supervisor Joe Simitian.
Today’s action came as a follow up to Supervisor Simitian’s September 2018 request that the County provide funds to ensure this vulnerable population does not have to slip into homelessness to qualify for housing created with County assistance. His initial proposal, to use Measure A funds, was met with resistance from some colleagues and community members who wanted 100% of the available housing funds for County residents who were already homeless, chronically homeless or at immediate risk of homelessness.
Simitian argued it made no sense to, “essentially require people to slide into homelessness before we provide assistance. I don’t think that’s sound policy, and I don’t think it’s a fundamentally humane way to address the needs of extremely low income and very low income people with developmental disabilities.”
“The smart, humane, and cost-effective approach is to prevent homelessness, not require it as a necessary precondition to assistance,” said Simitian.
Given the resistance to using “Measure A” funding specifically for people with developmental disabilities, Simitian suggested looking for other sources of funding, and was pleased to hear from County Executive Jeff Smith that Smith thought County staff could find the proposed $40 million from other sources without using “Measure A” funds. On Simitian’s motion the Board directed Smith (5-0) to do just that.
Tuesday’s item was essentially the implementation plan for the September 2018 action, and included sources for the first tranche of funding. The first ten million will come from redevelopment dissolution funds and the County’s Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) funding. The Board adopted the goal of moving forward with four annual appropriations of ten million dollars, though additional funding sources will need to be identified in future years.
To ensure there will continue to be a community conversation around the funding of units for people with developmental disabilities, Supervisor Simitian added a report-back component to the motion. Simitian observed, “the advocates who care about this set of issues are dedicated, knowledgeable, and engaged. It makes sense to have an open process where they can continue to provide input and speak-up for the needs of the community. An annual report will ensure that happens.”
These reports will go to the Board’s Housing Committee on which Simitian sits as Vice Chair every February in advance of the budget process, both to document progress on getting the money into the community where units are being built and to clarify plans for funding future appropriations that get to the $40M total.
Jan Stokley, Executive Director of Housing Choices, said, “We’re thrilled that the Supervisors approved the first ten million dollars to develop housing units for people with developmental disabilities. In the advocacy community, we’re looking forward to continuing our partnership with the County over the next few years while projects are identified to build with the ten million dollars and we identify new funding sources for the remaining thirty million dollars.”
A developmental disability is typically defined as a disability which:
• Severely affects at least three of seven areas of daily living – for example, communication, ability to be financially self-supporting, social skills, physical ability, cognitive ability, or ability to provide basic self-care,
• Emerges before the age of 18 (though not always),
• Is likely to continue for the rest of the person’s life, and
• Is severe enough that the person needs supportive services.
Stokley continued, “Many adults with developmental disabilities continue to live with their parents well into adulthood because there simply aren’t independent living situations for them in the community. As parents age, this becomes less viable and ultimately, many will be on their own at some point. They’re a vulnerable group of county residents who are not yet homeless, but are just a heartbeat away from a housing crisis.”
The County’s commitment to housing for people with developmental disabilities comes on top of the $250M the County has already put into affordable housing projects for the chronically homeless through its Measure A program.